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Pine Creek

Zion beta posted by ratagonia
  • The Hype

    A Great Little Canyon.

    Pine Creek is a true Zion Classic. It has a big handful of fun rappels, some downclimbs, swims; and then a tedious hour of boulder-hopping to get back to the car. It is largely underground, and offers respite from the hot sun in summer. It can be full of very cold water or dry enough to not wet your shoes. People mock it as being just too easy. But in my experience, it always delivers. At times, sunbeams laser down into the darkness, lighting up the walls, the water and the people in a splendid display.

    This is many people's first Zion canyon, and it is a fine choice. It is popular, and mid-day on summer weekends queues can form up for the rappels. Being in the heart of Zion, permits are required, the group size is limited to 12 persons, and there is a daily quota, though quite generous. Go during the off-hours, off-days or off-season to have the place to yourself.

    Getting There

    The Pine Creek Canyoneering Route is next to Route 9, the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, and essentially parallels the one-mile long Tunnel. Spot a car at the second switchback, and proceed to the east end of the tunnel, parking in the small parking lot just past the bridge on the right, or further along on the left if no spots are available.

    From the parking lot, descend next to the bridge on a small, discretely marked trail to the watercourse. Hike downcanyon a few minutes to the first drop. Back up a bit and find a pleasant place to put on your wetsuit, and rig up for the canyon.

    The Canyon - Rating: 3B III   Longest Rap: 100'   # of Raps: 6

    First Obstacle: A short drop and pool must be dealt with before getting to the first rappel. There are several options depending on water level and skills. Straight down the watercourse often is the best choice. An exposed climb up left, then down on a ramp can work better when the pool is full. There are some bolts put in for rescue operations that can be used to set up a rappel zero.

    R1: 60 feet TOTAL (18m). Rap from a bolt anchor to a pothole. Walk to the exit of the pothole and continue the rappel another 20 feet (6m) to the ground (sometimes pool). The last person can flip the ropes left around a horn, to avoid sticking the rope in the crack on the last part of the rappel. Pull the rope carefully, slow and steady.
    Walk 20 meters, then downclimb a log under a rock. Walk 20 meters past a small arch.

    R2: 10 feet (3m) off a log into a pothole.

    R3: Great Cathedral Rappel. Walk carefully out a slippery ramp to the anchor. (May require a belay in some conditions). Rap 60 feet (18m) off a bolt anchor past 2 arches.

    Walk or swim out the end of the pothole (through arch). Walk down a beautiful fluted corridor 100m to the next obstacle. Downclimb a log into a slot (and often a swim), or follow the rim on the right up and over to a bolt anchor and short rappel (20 feet, 6m), avoiding the deepest part of the swim. Walk or swim a long corridor. The canyon turns sharply right. Walk and downclimb 100 meters or so to a short drop.
    Carefully downclimb some logs into a pool. Walk 200 yards (200m) to one last swim where the canyon turns sharply right. Downclimb a log and make your way to where the canyon opens up. This is a good place to have lunch and warm up.
    Work through large blocks 200 meters, keeping near the right side of the canyon, to a flat ledge and a bolt anchor near a small tree.

    R4: Rap 60 feet (18m) down a corner. Pull the rope carefully to avoid getting it stuck in the corner crack. Walk through a neat keyhole to an open area.

    Safety Note: The canyon "floor" in the open area is debris wedged in-between giant boulders, and is unstable. It forms the roof of a cavern below. Use caution when moving across this possible collapse area.

    R5: Climb slabs left to a bench, then walk down to an arch and a bolt anchor for the final rappel.Rap 100 feet (30m). A spectacular free rappel leads to a rocky area that used to be (and will be again) a delightful Fairy Glen with a small spring.

    (Variation, Rap 5): Rap off a two-bolt anchor on the front of the huge boulder that blocks the canyon, 90 feet (27m) into the chamber under the rock. Downclimb/scramble down to the ground - easier than it looks. Stay close to the corner on the left and remove your pack and slide it down into the pool below.

    Relax, drink some water, remove harnesses and pack the rope. Sometimes it is best to wait until the canyon goes into the shade for the walk out.

    The Exit

    Descend the canyon. The floor of the canyon is littered with large blocks and the walk out is strenuous. Very difficult in the dark. Take it slow and have fun. It usually takes at least an hour, not including time for playing in pools. The masonry wall of the 2nd switchback is clearly visible from the canyon bottom just before the largest and best swimming hole. Find a small trail in the woods from just above the pool, or from the level of the pool, leading to the road.

    Emergency (NOT alternative) Exit: It is possible to follow a traversing trail across to the end of the top switchback of the Pine Creek road. The trail is closed except for emergencies, REAL emergencies. The ongoing use of these trails is easily seen from the Canyon Overlook trail and has a huge impact on the sandy hillside. Following the drainage is a low impact exit -- please use it.

    Red Tape

    Zion National Park - Permit required.

    Group Size Limit 12. Daily Quota of 80 (may vary seasonally). Often sells out on summer weekends.
  • The Pine Creek Canyoneering Route is next to Route 9, the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, and essentially parallels the one-mile long Tunnel. Spot a car at the second switchback, and proceed to the east end of the tunnel, parking in the small parking lot just past the bridge on the right, or further along on the left if no spots are available.

    From the parking lot, descend next to the bridge on a small, discretely marked trail to the watercourse. Hike downcanyon a few minutes to the first drop. Back up a bit and find a pleasant place to put on your wetsuit, and rig up for the canyon.
  • First Obstacle: A short drop and pool must be dealt with before getting to the first rappel. There are several options depending on water level and skills. Straight down the watercourse often is the best choice. An exposed climb up left, then down on a ramp can work better when the pool is full. There are some bolts put in for rescue operations that can be used to set up a rappel zero.

    R1: 60 feet TOTAL (18m). Rap from a bolt anchor to a pothole. Walk to the exit of the pothole and continue the rappel another 20 feet (6m) to the ground (sometimes pool). The last person can flip the ropes left around a horn, to avoid sticking the rope in the crack on the last part of the rappel. Pull the rope carefully, slow and steady.
    Walk 20 meters, then downclimb a log under a rock. Walk 20 meters past a small arch.

    R2: 10 feet (3m) off a log into a pothole.

    R3: Great Cathedral Rappel. Walk carefully out a slippery ramp to the anchor. (May require a belay in some conditions). Rap 60 feet (18m) off a bolt anchor past 2 arches.

    Walk or swim out the end of the pothole (through arch). Walk down a beautiful fluted corridor 100m to the next obstacle. Downclimb a log into a slot (and often a swim), or follow the rim on the right up and over to a bolt anchor and short rappel (20 feet, 6m), avoiding the deepest part of the swim. Walk or swim a long corridor. The canyon turns sharply right. Walk and downclimb 100 meters or so to a short drop.
    Carefully downclimb some logs into a pool. Walk 200 yards (200m) to one last swim where the canyon turns sharply right. Downclimb a log and make your way to where the canyon opens up. This is a good place to have lunch and warm up.
    Work through large blocks 200 meters, keeping near the right side of the canyon, to a flat ledge and a bolt anchor near a small tree.

    R4: Rap 60 feet (18m) down a corner. Pull the rope carefully to avoid getting it stuck in the corner crack. Walk through a neat keyhole to an open area.

    Safety Note: The canyon "floor" in the open area is debris wedged in-between giant boulders, and is unstable. It forms the roof of a cavern below. Use caution when moving across this possible collapse area.

    R5: Climb slabs left to a bench, then walk down to an arch and a bolt anchor for the final rappel.Rap 100 feet (30m). A spectacular free rappel leads to a rocky area that used to be (and will be again) a delightful Fairy Glen with a small spring.

    (Variation, Rap 5): Rap off a two-bolt anchor on the front of the huge boulder that blocks the canyon, 90 feet (27m) into the chamber under the rock. Downclimb/scramble down to the ground - easier than it looks. Stay close to the corner on the left and remove your pack and slide it down into the pool below.

    Relax, drink some water, remove harnesses and pack the rope. Sometimes it is best to wait until the canyon goes into the shade for the walk out.
  • Descend the canyon. The floor of the canyon is littered with large blocks and the walk out is strenuous. Very difficult in the dark. Take it slow and have fun. It usually takes at least an hour, not including time for playing in pools. The masonry wall of the 2nd switchback is clearly visible from the canyon bottom just before the largest and best swimming hole. Find a small trail in the woods from just above the pool, or from the level of the pool, leading to the road.

    Emergency (NOT alternative) Exit: It is possible to follow a traversing trail across to the end of the top switchback of the Pine Creek road. The trail is closed except for emergencies, REAL emergencies. The ongoing use of these trails is easily seen from the Canyon Overlook trail and has a huge impact on the sandy hillside. Following the drainage is a low impact exit -- please use it.
  • Zion National Park - Permit required.

    Group Size Limit 12. Daily Quota of 80 (may vary seasonally). Often sells out on summer weekends.

Condition Reports for Pine Creek

  1. Tirrus
    August 24, 2014
    Tirrus

    Difficulty:

    Easy

    Skill Level:

    Beginner

    Water:

    Swimming required

    Thermal:

    None

    Group Size:

    5 people

    Total Time:

    1 hour 4 hours


    Pine Creek flashed within the last two weeks, making for a nice full descent. The cathedral is a swimmer; with a few spots along the way being a little stinky. But overall a good time. No wetsuits worn.

    Posted Aug 26, 2014
  2. Earwig654
    July 17, 2014
    Earwig654

    Difficulty:

    NA

    Skill Level:

    NA

    Water:

    Swimming required

    Thermal:

    1-3mm wetsuit

    Group Size:

    3 people

    Total Time:

    1 hour 3 hours


    recent rains has filled up Pine Creek. high sand is keeping the swimming to the cathedral and one or two random spots. water isnt too cold but glad I had my wetsuit. we were all alone and took our time.

    Posted Jul 17, 2014
  3. JamesM
    Mar 16, 2013
    JamesM

    Difficulty:

    NA

    Skill Level:

    NA

    Water:

    NA

    Thermal:

    NA

    Group Size:

    NA

    Total Time:

    NA


    Someone has left about 80' of green webbing attached to the (Variation rap 5 boulder) plus another 20, on the big rock above the bolts. Two days ago was my first time in Pine and I couldn't believe how many anchor stations and excess webbing there are at each rap.

    Beside that there are a lot of great swims, and I had a blast....dress warm.

    Posted Mar 16, 2013
The information provided here is intended for entertainment purposes only. The creator of this information and/or Canyon Collective are not liable for any harm or damage caused by this information. Conditions in the backcountry are constantly changing, only you are responsible for your safety and well being.